February 9, 2018 4:41 pm
Updated: February 9, 2018 5:40 pm

Opposition calling for N.B. Families and Children Minister to resign

WATCH: Opposition MLAs are calling for the resignation of Families and Children Minister Stephen Horsman in the wake of a child neglect case he admitted to not knowing about until media reported on it. Jeremy Keefe reports.


A severe case of child neglect and the response, or lack thereof, from the minister responsible has prompted resignation calls from opposing MLAs.

Families and Children Minister Stephen Horsman, who also serves as the Deputy Premier of New Brunswick, admitted this week he first became aware of a disturbing Saint John area case of child neglect when it was reported in the media.

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READ MORE: Questions remain in child neglect case: ‘Unfathomable how this could happen’

Though it received some media attention when it came to light in 2016, Horsman was referring to recent reports when describing when he became abreast of the situation.

When questioned how the minister could be out of the loop on such a dire situation, Horsman said he hasn’t been provided enough information by department staff.

“I need to be briefed better,” he said.

The lack of oversight on the portfolio has resulted in calls from opposing MLAs for Horsman’s resignation.

“This is about the minister taking responsibility, which he clearly has not,” said MLA Glen Savoie, who represents Saint John East.

“So now we’re asking for somebody who can be better connected to the files, better connected to the needs of the families that are under this department, to make sure that these people are looked after.”

READ MORE: N.B. Premier says opposition leader’s call for his resignation ‘political opportunism’

Calling for a sitting government member’s resignation isn’t new for the opposition during this term.

Last fall, questions of conflicting interests prompted the PC Party to ask for Donald Arseneault to step down, just months after they requested Ed Doherty leave his post as Service New Brunswick minister following the property tax scandal.

Resignation calls have also been extended to other members, including Premier Brian Gallant.

Even Horsman has previously received the resignation treatment from the other side of the floor during this mandate, when he erroneously made a claim about judges calling him at home.

READ MORE: New Brunswick MLA insists no conflict of interest despite controversy with second job

But other than on the property tax issue, Green Party Leader David Coon hasn’t been quite as adamant that resignations were required, until now.

“He needs to move on. This portfolio is too important, too serious to have a minister who is essentially acting as a bystander,” he said.

“It’s a big deal to suggest a minister should resign so it only should be called for in those circumstances where a minister has clearly failed to be involved in the work of his department or her department and in those cases where the minister has clearly failed to take responsibility for failures within their department. On both counts, that’s the case with Mr. Horsman.”

The charges from both opposing parties in the legislative assembly were shrugged off by Gallant when questioned about how his government will proceed.

“Deputy Premier Horsman has my full confidence,” said Gallant.

“He is a former community police officer. This is somebody who I think is in a very good position to work very, very hard to find out what happened and what can be done better.”

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